This is something that may come as a surprise to lots of people, but in many areas of life Scotland is already fully independent. It is a fact nearly always overlooked by Unionists, who are so keen to demonstrate that independence will somehow damage us. Yet in areas as diverse as sport and religion, Scotland is and more important, always has been independent.
Let us start with sport, one of the most popular activities of humanity just about everywhere. In just about every sport, Scotland is, to use the Unionists' favoured term, already separate. It is not just in football, golf and rugby that we have our own independent, sorry, separate teams and governing bodies. Nearly every sport from cricket to volleyball is governed in Scotland by our very own, internationally recognised ruling association. And as far as I am aware, not even the most ardent Unionist argues that Scotland should give up its independence in these sports. Just look at the brouhaha over the fielding of a UK football team in this year's Olympics.
When it comes to sports, everyone accepts our right to be independent - to run things for ourselves and to be represented in the relevant international bodies in our own right. It is also worth pointing out that in all sports we are fully independent or separate if you prefer. This means that we are not subsidised by anyone, certainly not by England or the UK government. Somehow we manage to successfully pay our way. We may not be the most successful team in some sports, but hey, nor is England. We accept with good grace and a few murmurs whatever we do manage to achieve and if it is not good enough then we try to work out how we can do better in the future. But virtually nobody thinks it a good idea to give up our separate football team for a UK one.
The same can be said for another, some might say even more important facet of life - religion. Here again it is an uncontested fact that all religions, or at least all Christian denominations, have their own, independent/separate lives and governing structures. This is clearly the case with the Church of Scotland, which as its name suggests is a wholly Scottish institution. Perhaps surprisingly to some, the same applies to the Catholic Church. Despite the universal nature of Catholicism, the Church is run along national lines. This means that the Catholic Church is separate/independent from the Catholic Church in England for example. Scottish Catholics have their own direct line to the Pope, without the inconvenience of having to go through London. Again the various Scottish religious groups manage to survive and provide services to their faithful, without the benefits of any kind of subsidy from England or the UK government.
Since devolution there is now a further range of public services in which Scotland is pretty much independent. I refer to education, the Health Service, local government, social work etc. All areas which are under the full responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. Over the past decade or so, Scotland has become ever more different from the rest of the UK, especially from England. We are pursuing an independent/separate line in the above areas. And virtually nobody is advocating that we hand back power in these areas to Westminster. The key difference between let us say, education and football, is that in the latter we have full control over what we spend. Whereas with education, we can only spend what London condescends to give us. So in relation to public services we are only partly independent.
So why not go the whole hog and vote for full independence in 2014. It is amazing that we are proud of our independence in sport and religion and we are equally proud of our separate education and NHS, yet Unionists would have us believe we are still somehow too wee, too poor to take full responsibility for everything - just like all other independent countries manage to do.